Let’s face facts. Michael Bay does not care what we think. For the rest of the summer his name will absorb the vulgar wrath of film fans like you and me, but Bay won’t even flinch. Michael Bay may have just spit in the face of your childhood memories with Trans4mers (so spelled because Mark Wahlberg has a tough time with “big words”), but this morning he probably tipped a masseuse by giving her a Corvette. Michael Bay didn’t even finish letting loose his latest diarrhetic bowel movement into the Transformers bucket before studio executives lined up the TMNT bucket right behind it. “Who cares!?,” the execs scream giddily, running to the market with the filled buckets, “This shit sells like GOLD!” In fact, my sources tell me that this weekend, while we all simmer in our Bay-rage, Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay are having a celebratory sleepover in their firefighter and policeman pajamas, making ‘splosions out of hundred dollar bills and repeatedly slapping the air as they fail to connect high fives.
But to accommodate the possibility that they get bored enough to Google their own names (Michael Bay will type because Mark Wahlberg “don’t know letters”) and internet serendipity leads them to our humble discussion corner, let’s go through and measure the value of each of Bay’s previous movies, from best to worst. Perhaps with our guidance, Mr. Bay can pull it together and someday, return to the level of… almost not very bad.
1.) The Rock
Alright, to be fair, I kind of love this movie. Sometimes, when I get into harshly worded conversations on internet film forums about how I don’t like certain P.T. Anderson or Lars von Trier movies, anonymous trolls like to come at me with garbage like “Yeah, why don’t you just go watch another Michael Bay movie, meathead?!” So I do. I pop in my copy of The Rock, bust open a bag of Doritos, and enjoy every minute. Looks like I get the last laugh, and boy does it feel good.
The Not Quite Bad
2.) Bad Boys
Listen, if you’re over the age of 25, there was a moment when you thought Martin Lawrence was funny as hell. No one wants to admit it. We’re all living a lie. But it happened, right in the middle of the 1990s; right around the time Bad Boys hit the scene. “He’s the next Chris Rock,” we all agreed in unison, because it turns out we were also all racist at that point in time. But the most regrettable error-in-judgment from that time period? We all celebrated the arrival of a new superstar action director after seeing the now obviously mediocre buddy cop duo.
There’s a built in excuse for Bay here. Considering the tools at his disposal, this movie isn’t that bad. Talking, transforming cars have more human likablity than Shia what’s his face… the guy who was famous once? And I found adult toys under my college roommate’s bed that showed more expressive acting talent than Megan Fox. With that said, this movie isn’t the traumatic experience we want to believe it is until you push it under the same umbrella as its sequels.
I can’t believe this is Bay’s fourth best movie. This movie had so much star potential and acting talent. It also had Liv Tyler. Three seconds of watching the animal cracker scene and I was yearning for more mindless explosions and juvenile banter. And if 160 minutes of nonsensical plot wasn’t torture enough, because of this movie, the only song allowed on FM radio between 1998-99 was Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. And the punchline? This movie is in the Criterion Collection, cited as “a work of art by a cutting-edge artist who is a master of movement, light, color, and shape.”
5.) The Island
I’m going to be honest. I don’t remember watching this movie. I remember putting the movie in the DVD player. I remember thinking “I’m watching Michael Bay’s The Island.” But I don’t remember the movie. This movie stars Scarlett Johansson. I always remember Scarlett Johannson. For perspective: zero (0) things happen in Lost in Translation and I remember that movie.
6.) Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon
And this is where the franchise really fell off the rails. This third chapter of the Transformers sucka (a sucky saga) solidifies my theory that Michael Bay has as much business working with high-budget, special effects action sequences as Mark Wahlberg has entering the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
7.) Pain & Gain
I’ve heard one too many movie-minded people try to describe this as Michael Bay’s brand of a Coen Brother film. Let’s get this straight right now. We never need to put Michael Bay in the same sentence as the Coen Brothers again, unless that sentence reads something like this: “Down-on-his-luck former movie director Michael Bay got his second shot at showbiz today, as the Coen Brothers hired him as a set assistant to wipe the sweat off of John Goodman’s lower back.”
8.) Bad Boys II
Bad Boys II marks the beginning stages of Bay’s cinematic pyromania. There’s a whole lot of movie packed into this sequel and it’s all interrupted by 1,921 explosions. You could make a movie about a superhero whose superpower was exploding, who was also a blind bomb diffuser and refused to eat anything but Taco Bell, and it wouldn’t have half as many pointless explosions as this movie.
9.) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
All the indecipherable metal clunkiness of the third Transformers movie plus racist stereotyping. Skids and Mudflap speak in ebonics and breakdance; basically, the robot version of blackface.
10.) Pearl Harbor
During the attack on Pearl Harbor, 2,500 people lost their lives. In World War II, over 60 million people died. But that’s just a backdrop to Bay’s “historical epic.” The high drama here is focused on the real tragic misfortune of Kate Beckinsale who, torn between Ben Affleck’s butt chin and Josh Hartnett’s eternally squinty eyes, decides… well, she decides she doesn’t have to decide. So, she hides in a maze of bedsheets and makes eskimo brothers out of two dumb best friends. Yeah, okay…